A book for anyone who has ever felt the chaos of life overwhelm them but clings to the will to thrive anyway.
Thrive by JJ Eden is a collection of short stories and poetry that takes our deepest questions and fears about life and lays them bare in verse and parable. There were so many times while reading this collection that I felt my heart ready to climb out from the cage my ribs had become and soar into the stars. It was a journey I’ll gladly repeat, as it fed my soul in ways I needed then and I know I will need again.
This conglomeration of beautiful prose and witty refrain starts before we even see the table of contents, with an acknowledgement that reads like a love song to the misfits, the unwanted, the unruly. I loved every word of it.
But where Eden first got me is past the table of contents, past the intro, in a powerful poem titled who are you?, with a message to the naysayers, the toxic outsiders, and dare I say the trolls of our lives. Her message is strong, with more kindness than I could muster myself but with confidence and self-respect that I would envy in such a confrontation.
This pattern continues on with other poems like let your wild out and How I will fly, among others. In some ways, I imagined Eden as a mentor imparting hard-won wisdom and truth for my eyes alone; it felt intimate, genuine and breathless. Like each poem or short story was a gift, a truth that I needed to hear, and each left my soul a little lighter.
There are some poems and stories in this collection that downright deserve a mic drop. When I read the ending to B R E A T H E, it felt like such a perfect representation of diversity that it took my own breath away.
There were a lot of these moments throughout the book, and that leads me to one of Eden’s biggest strengths in Thrive: her use of metaphor is incredibly on point. Nearly every poem or short story uses metaphor and simile to relate a feeling, an archetype or a theme seamlessly, bringing it all together in the last sentence or verse that drives it home.
Eden also uses visuals to help bring her concepts to life. There are miscellaneous illustrations throughout, as well as strategic formatting of text in alternate layouts to help with certain concepts. It’s not overdone thankfully, as this technique can easily become distracting, but it adds just a little bit of flair and edginess to some of the stanzas.
Subject-wise, Thrive focuses a lot on self-worth, confidence, and respect. In all honesty, some of the things Eden tackles were words I was desperate to hear and never knew. Especially for those of us who struggle with self-esteem issues and anxiety, the world can be a heavy place to exist. It eases the load to have books like this where we can see there are other ways to exist than in our heads burdened by our own detrimental thoughts and emotions.
Should You Read It?
This is the kind of poetry book I would gift to people in my friend circle that I knew were struggling, or had struggled in the past. It’s a boost of self-awareness to know that you’re not alone, and that others out there struggle with the same concerns but are winning the fight against their own self doubt.
That is what makes Thrive so powerful: at the end of the day, it’s a book that makes you wonder what it would be like to live with that self-confidence, to survive the lows, and gives you a spark on the road to get there.
I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a small or big boost of confidence and self-acceptance. Read it in spurts or all at once—it’s not a terribly long read—and I highly recommend re-reading it, because it’s not a one and done road. Let this book be a reminder and a companion on your journey to loving the person you are, and who you will grow to be.
I rated Thrive as spark level Sparkler; it left me with a sense of whimsy and wonderment that filled me with the warmth of new beginnings and the possibilities of tomorrow.
Trigger Warnings: None.